Scripture is clear that God delights to give us food. God carefully planted a garden for the first humans to feast on and enjoy (Genesis 2:8). Heaven is a place of feasting, where there is more than enough food (Isaiah 25:6). At the same time, Scripture is clear that Christians should fast from food. The Old Testament is full of examples of personal and corporate fasting (Deuteronomy 9:9; 1 Kings 19:8; Daniel 10:3; Leviticus 23:27; Joel 2:15; 2 Chronicles 10:1–4). The New Testament also has examples of personal and corporate fasting from food (Acts 9:9, 13:2). More importantly, Jesus operated with the assumption that his disciples would fast (Matthew 6:16, 9:15). If food is so good and something that God provides, why should Christians fast from food? There are many reasons for fasting food, but I want to point you to just two of them.
First, it is only when we realize our dependence that we can discover our dependence on God. When we are hungry for food that we need, we realize that we should be hungry for the God we need. God is more important than food, but it is so difficult to keep this at the front of our minds. Hunger can help us hunger for God.
Second, fasting something good helps us discover something better. When we give up good things, we realize that God is the best thing. Here are a few practical suggestions for starting to fast food during Holy Week:
- If it is your first time fasting food, start by fasting from sun up to sun down. Or you may consider drinking a little juice throughout the day for your first time. Don’t go straight to a 24- or 48-hour fast. Start with a daytime fast on Good Friday.
- Drinks lots of water while fasting. It is much easier to get dehydrated while fasting because you get some fluids from the foods you eat.
- Some coffee and tea drinkers find that fasting is only doable for them if they are still able to drink their tea or coffee in the morning.
- If you cannot fast all food for medical reasons, consider giving up certain indulgent foods or limiting yourself to bread and water for the day.
Most importantly, remember to feed yourself on the Word of God. Fasting isn’t just about giving up something good, it is about filling yourself with something better. Take the time you would spend preparing, eating, and cleaning up meals to feast on God’s Word. Prepare for the feast by clearing your mind and setting your heart and mind in order. Think about it like setting a table for dinner. Then slowly read a few verses of Scripture. Take your time and enjoy the rich feast God has provided for you. Then do a little clean up after the meal. Consider your life and how God’s Word is calling you to live differently. Jesus says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” God is more than able to fill all your hunger.